So whether you do your first downward dog at 14 or 44, it’s not your history, but your presence on the mat that counts.
The hardest part is showing up. Which is also the easiest part, right? There are probably one hundred reasons why you’ve decided to take your first class, and probably one hundred why you havn’t already gone. Either way, no matter the reason, it all comes down to making it happen: To showing up.
Once you’ve explored your options, checked out all the local studios online and found a class or two that works with your schedule, you’ve committed to going. Now what? Here are a few tips on how to be best prepared for your first yoga class.
- Clothing: Wear something comfortable! You’ll be moving, twisting, turning, up and down on your mat. Something with a stretch is nice to avoid restrictions in certain postures, especially in a yin class. Form fitting works well because there are postures that my allow a loose fitting shirt to slide up exposing your tummy or chest. This style also allows teachers to see the contours of your body to help adjust in particular postures. And finally, if it’s not a restorative class, you’ll probably sweat. Wear moisture wicking clothing for more comfort. And though Rocket and Ashtanga classes are NOT heated, the internal heat generated by detoxifying postures will certainly make you sweat.
- Mats: At Evolve we are lucky enough to have Zebra Mat Flooring that provides a soft surface upon which you technically don’t even need a mat to practice, but trust us, you’ll want one. Some studios have mats to borrow or to rent for a buck or two. At Evolve we have a couple loaners, but if you find that you enjoy yoga and intend to practice often, it’s certainly nice to have your own mat. The Do Yoga With Me Community and we agree, rank the Manduka mat as their favorite pick. For durability, comfort and non-slip surfaces, Manduka makes a top of the line product. Runner up, and top pick by Yoga Journal, are the Jade Mats. Again, durable and no slip surfaces made with eco-friendly products. A third option and some of the best for heavy sweaters are the LuluLemon mats. Non of these mats are the most affordable, but you’ll find that spending a little extra on the quality will be worth every penny when your not slipping off your mat during class. This is especially important for Rocket and Ashtanga when attempting inverted poses.
- Towel: Bring a small towel to wipe sweat and maybe even a mat towel to provide an extra sticky, non-slip base. It may sound crazy, but if you spray your mat towel down before practicing, your hands and feet will stick much better than with a dry towel.
- Water: Be sure to have a water bottle with you. Be prepared however that Ashtangis don’t drink water when they practice. So you may not see many other students drinking water and your teacher may encourage you to leave the water until after class. There are fountains inside the Evolve studio and though we encourage our students to practice within the traditional Ashtanga ways, you are in no way forbidden to drink water during your practice.
- You’ve got all your gear and your ready to show up to your mat! Be sure to arrive to class 10-15 minutes early. Don’t be alarmed if the door is locked if it’s more than 15 mins before class. Many studios operate without a front desk receptionist and for studio safety, teachers will lock the door during class. Arriving early allows for you to acquaint yourself with the teacher, the studio, take a look around and also to claim your spot in the practice space in which you feel most comfortable. At Evolve, we allow for 30 minutes between classes so that teachers have plenty of time to answer questions and get you settled in.
- After checking in, go find the space in which you feel most comfortable to set up your mat. We suggest the back of the room so you can take cues from students in front of you and always facing the teacher. There are some class set ups in that students will practice next to the teacher, but for your first time, make sure you have a good viewpoint facing the teacher to see the postures being modeled.
- Never leave class during Savasana – the final pose where everyone is comfortably on their back, legs and arms extended. If you need to leave early, sneak out -don’t disturb those around you – before Savasana. However, it’s always best to stay the course! Make time for yourself, make time for yoga and try to stay the whole class.
- If you do stay until the end, a teacher will often close class cross legged, hands to heart and with chanting or a verbal Namaste and students often respond with a verbal Namaste as well. You are welcome to join in, but are not obligated to participate.
- Communication: One of the MOST important tips for new students is to always communicate with your teacher: concerns, injuries, questions, modifications, whether or not you are comfortable with hands on adjustments, etc. Every yoga teacher is a guide and their goal is to help you excel and experience the most fulfilling practice possible. By communicating you are helping them to help you.
- Breath: Don’t forget to breath! Yoga is about breath control and learning to match breath with movement. If you forget to breath, you’re not doing yoga. Plus, it’ll help ease your mind and reduce anxiety.
You’re READY FOR TAKEOFF to your first yoga class! Biggest thing: Don’t worry, go slow and remember it’s yoga practice, not yoga perfect. You WILL progress and you are never expected to hold a perfect pose or to know what comes next. Practice at home between classes and you’ll soon see a huge improvement.